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Quote: On densification in Dunbar

November 19, 2012

“I hope that maybe it’s a four storey or somewhere else where they’re not going to disturb the neighbourhood, somewhere where there’s actually an area for this kind of development, not in the middle of where people are living.”

– Dunbar resident Marina Hislop, in the Vancouver Courier.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Ducote permalink
    November 19, 2012 1:47 pm

    Does one laugh or cry at such a statement? Probably both at the same time. This has to be 2012’s version of the infamous “creme de la creme” comment some years ago and deserves the same lasting status.

  2. Ken Ohrn permalink*
    November 19, 2012 3:01 pm

    I guess there are some people who are more equal than other kinds of people. Funny that this quote should come on the same day as those hilarious headlines.

  3. Andrew Browne permalink
    November 19, 2012 3:54 pm

    Pacific Arbour proposed and has almost completed construction of a similar 8-storey facility in West Vancouver, and construction management has been very professional and generally without issue. I don’t recall any community angst over the project, either (and an 8-storey project would normally raise a few eyebrows).

    >> “I really want Dunbar to remain the way it is. It’s very important not just for me, but for my children who want to continue living in Dunbar,” said Hislop.

    Reality check: Your kids won’t be able to afford to live in Dunbar, and even if they could, they’d likely choose not to.

    >> “I’m saying the experts on the mayor’s task force were experts, but they are not citizens. You are the citizens and your point of view is just as valid and important and as expert-based,” said Carr. “You have a vision and you deserve to have people at city hall recognizing that your vision for your neighbourhood is the right one to follow.”

    Enhh… I hear what she’s saying, to an extent, but it’s a bit silly. There are many interests, not all of them local, and not all of them existing. How do we weigh the preferences of a future/potential resident to those of an existing resident? What of the right of a particular area to reject growth which then must be accommodated elsewhere, at the “cost” of higher buildings in other neighbourhoods? It’s not really as simple as first-in decides the outcome. Everyone lives in a dwelling that was at some point the new house on the block, and we forget this all too easily. It’s too easy to say that the neighbourhood doesn’t want anything to change, so that’s that. That’s the easy way out, but it’s not good urbanism, it’s not good city-building, and ultimately it results in neighbourhoods that are neither resilient nor diverse.

  4. tom durning permalink
    November 19, 2012 4:05 pm

    Individualism vs. Social Responsibility
    America’s much-venerated Protestant work ethic reassures us that, through hard work, determination and self-discipline, we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and enjoy success and material rewards. In an individualistic culture, we are not to ask what our country can do for us, but instead are expected to look out for ourselves and take advantage of the many opportunities available to us.

    The less-pleasant inverse of the Protestant work ethic: if you’re poor or disempowered, then it’s your own damn fault. Your degraded condition isn’t the result of any social forces, but is caused exclusively by some personal character flaw: laziness, alcoholism, moral degeneracy. For moral traditionalists, charity to the “undeserving poor” is wrong because it leads to dependence and the moral collapse of our individualistic society.

    The Judeo-Christian charitable ethic simultaneously demands that each of us offer compassion and assistance to the weak and poor. For those who uphold the “social gospel,” all people are created equal, so all deserve a piece of the pie. Those who can’t presently reach the pie plate must be handed their share by more fortunate, empowered members of society. The issue isn’t equal opportunity, but actual equality where everyone possesses a fair share of basic resources. Poverty and social degradation aren’t a reflection of one’s personal weaknesses, but are caused by social problems such as the lack of jobs, affordable housing, or effective education. For social gospel adherents, responsibility toward the less fortunate is a moral requirement.

    The Moral Dilemma: Guilt, Shame, Anger
    Between the horns of individualism and of social responsibility, most citizens face an unresolvable moral dilemma when it comes to affordable housing projects. Supporting affordable housing may offend their moral commitment toward self-determination, but opposing affordable housing will violate their ethical duty to help the weak. When neighbors scream, “Not in My Back Yard!”, they will inflict guilty feelings upon themselves at the same time for breaching their own ethical standards of sacrifice and charity. No one likes to feel guilty, so guilt often triggers anger: anger towards the project sponsor for triggering the moral dilemma and the terrible feelings.

    I’m Not to Blame!
    NIMBY neighbors opposing affordable housing projects often go through a lot of effort to absolve themselves of moral blame. They may offer an excuse, arguing that, “I’m not a bad person because I’m not really opposing your project.” The neighbor may claim to be merely “expressing concerns” about individual issues, rather then opposing the entire project. The litany of complaints then shifts the burden to the project sponsor: if the project sponsor can’t resolve all the problems, then the agency is to blame for the project’s failure, not the neighbor.

    A resident may admit that he or she is opposing a project, but offer a justification that makes that opposition blameless. Many neighbors say that they’re “forced” to oppose affordable housing projects because the proposals will adversely affect their own personal interests: reducing property values, increasing crime, and so on. Others assert that they “have to” oppose the project in order to protect the interests of other people, or of the environment, or of their community constituents. Sophisticated NIMBY neighbors may cloak themselves in blatant compassion, claiming that the only reason they oppose the project is because the proposal doesn’t meet the underlying needs of its target population. Residents protesting a senior housing project, for example, might argue that the proposal should be rejected because the site is too steep for seniors, or too far from transit, or too expensive.

    NIMBY opponents often claim that concepts of justice or fairness justify their project resistance. They may claim that opposition is simply retribution for the project sponsor’s lies, arrogant behavior, or failure to show respect. Demands for environmental justice can cloak more selfish and therefore less acceptable motivations. Citizens may also argue that the project sponsor is so untrustworthy that a more cooperative attitude isn’t merited.

    “NIMBYism”: A Convenient Excuse
    Project sponsors are often extremely eager to condemn all opponents as “NIMBYs”, believing that categorically describing all opponents as racists or selfish protectionists somehow eliminates any obligation to address citizens’ concerns. By characterizing opponents as NIMBYs, project sponsors hope they can dismiss community concerns about perfectly reasonable issues such as design, construction, or operation of the facility. A similar situation was seen at the O.J. Simpson trial, where defense lawyers argued that, because Mark Fuhrman was a racist, nothing he said on any subject merited consideration.

    The Top Priority: To Do Good or Be Good?
    There is a significant moral split in the affordable housing community between those who are primarily driven to achieve moral outcomes and those who are driven to fulfill moral rules. For outcome-oriented people, building affordable housing is the number one priority, and the ends may justify the means. An affordable housing builder with an outcome-orientation, for example, might agree to exclude sexual offenders from a halfway house if that’s the price to be paid to get opponents to back off. For rule-oriented moralists, however, right and wrong can’t be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. If discrimination against ex-convicts is wrong, then it is always wrong; rule-oriented idealists would protest that it is wholly unacceptable to legitimize discrimination by negotiating with neighbors about the type of residents who could occupy the facility. For these extremists, it would be better to build no housing at all than to perpetuate discrimination against convicted sexual offenders.

    The ethics of NIMBYism and affordable housing aren’t simple. Opponents of affordable housing aren’t all evil, and project sponsors aren’t universally righteous. Through a better understanding of citizens’ moral concerns you can help neighbors appreciate that support for affordable housing is the “right” thing to do. At the same time, housing providers need to carefully evaluate their own moral position to make certain that ethical issues aren’t used as an excuse to avoid responsible community outreach.

  5. tom durning permalink
    November 19, 2012 4:07 pm

    Sorry, the above is from an article by an American author, Debra Stein. I just thought it was fitting.

  6. November 19, 2012 4:24 pm

    Although these comments are silly, people have a legitimate beef with spot rezonings. If an area can handle higher density, it should be upzoned broadly. That way proper shoulder areas can be incorporated to prevent zoning cliffs. Spot rezonings create uncertainty among the residents and encourage ambitious developers to overshoot and just generally to create a lot of fuss. I’m sure all big rezonings go in with application number that is well higher than the real number that the developer is planning for.

    There are many areas of the city that could benefit from a broad upzoning. And establishing a clear supply of available land for development and redevelopment should ease perceived supply constraints and lower prices.

    • Don permalink
      November 19, 2012 5:09 pm

      Yes, I see this at my work. You come in with a development application way above what you actually want, you grind down the City over time, all the while keeping things slowly chugging along so that at some point the City can’t say no because they’ve gone down the path with you for so long so you finally reach a point where had you come in with this washed down version initially it most likely would need revisions anyway but because it’s the product of this long drawn out process the city accepts it.

  7. mezzanine permalink
    November 19, 2012 7:30 pm

    When did all of these infighting factions become benign “stakeholders,” with equal rights, right or wrong? And when did those stakeholders cease to be recognized as special interests, each with its own self-directed agenda? The objective professionalism needed to balance all those agendas in the interest of a more overriding concept in the greater public interest has succumbed to the myth of an “inclusionary” process that goes beyond appropriate consideration of all relevant factors to the ridiculous denial of priorities. In one of those extreme pendulum swings that turns reason into nonsense, a reversal of the old, discredited urban renewal policies that ignored community input has become an abdication of all responsibility for a kind of goofy planning populism.

  8. Tessa permalink
    November 20, 2012 4:08 am

    So I’m guessing she wants this building built in the middle of the Salish Sea then?

  9. JanejustJane permalink
    November 22, 2012 12:25 am

    Love the Dunbar residents, and live near this area….surrounded by other large houses with their huge grass moats, each with only one or two people in them. It is just not sustainable. Yes, we have zoning cliffs, yes, we need to pay more attention on how we transition scale from the commercial street into the neighbourhood. But after assisting two very good friends into assisted living at extraordinary prices in this area, I know we need more seniors’ housing. And we need it now.

  10. November 30, 2012 11:54 pm

    I appreciate dunbar real estate
    this article its really very helpful & explained in very simple way that any one can understand…& will fix in mind forever. well done.


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